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Amanda Rose. Amanda Rose. Featured
05 June 2022 Posted by 

COMMENT: WHAT (Western Sydney) WOMEN WANT

Will this new government do better?
AMANDA ROSE
A NEW prime minister has been swept into power on the promise to do politics better, but what will Anthony Albanese deliver to the women of western Sydney?
As we look to building our future, there must be acknowledgement of the ongoing challenges we continue to face. 
 
Subject to disproportionately harsh lockdown conditions during the height of the pandemic, western Sydney has suffered from massive job losses on top of its already lower-than-average salaries and higher-than-average unemployment.
 
The challenges facing aspirational western Sydney women including its small businesswomen are stark. Women are being held back by a lack of investment and opportunities even as they battle rising inflation, a shortage of skilled workers and long existing barriers to entry into the workforce. 
 
Though western Sydney is the third largest economy in Australia, home to 44% of Sydney's population, it receives significantly less funding than other parts of the country. For instance, it received less than 1% of the federal budget for arts and culture in 2022. 
 
This is in spite of the fact that the region is poised to become an economic powerhouse in the next 30 years due to its vibrant manufacturing, logistics, construction, and healthcare sectors. 
 
Far from the stereotype of being an electorate that lacks ambition, western Sydney is growing and changing faster than ever. Its population of 2.6 million which eclipses that of Brisbane is expected to surge to 4.9 million by 2054. 
 
Brimming with potential, western Sydney is close to reaching self-sufficiency with its own airport, critical services and infrastructure, and people with the desire and drive to build a prosperous life for themselves and their families. 
 
This entrepreneurial spirit is reflected in the industries and jobs that are the main preoccupations of western Sydney residents. 
 
ABS business data compiled by demographer Bernard Salt shows that there were 450,000 ABNs operating in western Sydney in 2020 compared with 125,000 in the rest of the city. 
 
Due to the high concentration of small and medium enterprises, Salt referred to western Sydney as the “small business heartland of the Australian continent”. 
 
He suggests that the region has the makings to drive Australia’s post-Covid recovery led by exceptional growth in logistics, healthcare, and home improvement industries. 
 
The post-election courting of western Sydney is over for now, what remains to be seen is if the government truly understands this region and its unique needs. 
 
The seismic shifts that have changed the political landscape this election has brought some home truths to the major parties. It is essential they pay attention to what local communities are saying and learn to prioritise the things that concern them most.
 
The skills shortages crisis impacts small businesses
 
Western Sydney generates 31% of Sydney’s $104B gross regional product (GRP), and women’s contributions make up a sizeable chunk of that. To keep on generating wealth for the region, female small business owners must be supported in their bid to return to post-COVID normal. 
 
A report by McKinsey suggests that this is no easy task. In the US many small businesses will take up to five years or more to fully recover, and some may not bounce back at all. 
 
The emerging issues afflicting small businesses include supply chain disruptions, price increases and dampened consumer spending. 
 
Though the patchwork of state and federal grants, loans and financial assistance is welcome, without a greater national plan to facilitate recovery, female small business owners will find it difficult to look to the future.  
 
The skills shortages crisis in particular disproportionately impacts small businesses, with 45% experiencing shortages in skills and staff. Increasing the availability of free education and upskilling for women would be a great start. 
 
Skilling up women in male-dominated industries (trades and STEM programs) is another common-sense step in getting western Sydney women job ready in a region where trade and manufacturing dominates. 
 
Further education of women in the areas of financial literacy and job readiness programs for long term unemployed women increases opportunities for vulnerable women at risk of being left behind. Multilingual programs and programs targeted towards marginalised ethnic and socioeconomic groups are much needed and always well received. 
 
And since western Sydney has a lower high school completion rate compared with greater Sydney, creating more professional opportunities for high school aged girls is yet another important area of focus. 
 
No discussion of economic opportunities for women would be complete without touching on the pervasive issue of affordable and available childcare. 
 
Figures show that more than 100,000 women could not even search for employment due to lack of childcare and childcare “black spots” in western Sydney urgently need to be addressed. 
 
Another possibility for female small business owners could be group child-care arrangements at co-working hubs to minimise costs and give them the peace of mind they need to meet their full productive capacity.
 
The PM said: “I want to bring people together and I want to change the way that politics is conducted in this country”. 
 
It’s a welcome change that will hopefully herald a positive and close working relationship with communities. Women have always been instrumental to the wellbeing of their communities. By putting their concerns and opinions first, the government can help secure a better future for all. 
 
Amanda Rose is Founding Director of Western Sydney Women. Visit: www.westernsydneywomen.com.au
 


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Michael Walls
michael@accessnews.com.au
0407 783 413

Western Sydney Business Access (WSBA) covers the business and community issues of the Greater Western Sydney region of Australia. WSBA is the popular media source for connecting with the pulse of the region and tapping into it's vast opportunities and networks.